Have you ever wondered what the best daily habits are?
As the creator of StrongerHabits.com, I spend a lot of time researching, thinking, writing, and speaking about habits. One lesson that I have learned over the years is that all habits are not created equal. Some habits add much more value than others.
In this article, you will learn the 10 best daily habits. The more that you can incorporate these behaviors into your life, the stronger you will become- physically, mentally, and psychologically.
All Habits Are Not Created Equal
There are many articles and books that feature long lists of daily habits to incorporate into your life. Some of these lists recommend 25, 50, 100, or even more habits to adopt.
While the authors of these lists have good intentions, their recommendations are not very helpful. It’s not clear which habits are most important and which you should focus on first. In addition, many of the habits on these never-ending lists actually add little or no value. For example, here are three habits that are actually recommended on some of these lists:
- “Sniff lavender” (to reduce stress).
- “Learn a new word from the dictionary” (to get smarter).
- “Park in the furthest parking spot from your destination” (to lose weight).
If you want to sniff lavender, learn some new words, or park farther away, go for it. Just don’t expect your life to change much by doing so.
Most people have no interest in trying to incorporate hundreds of new behaviors into their lives. The good news is that you don’t need to make hundreds of changes. A small number of daily habits will help you become your strongest self- physically, mentally, and psychologically.
The Top 10 Daily Habits
People often ask me which habits are most important and which habits to focus on first. Here are the top 10 habits that I recommend. Build them into your life (one habit at a time), and you will be amazed at the results.
1. Sleep for at least 7 hours each night.
Insufficient sleep decreases your energy, makes you more irritable and anxious, and makes it more difficult to concentrate and think clearly. Over the long-term, poor sleeping habits are also linked to obesity and virtually every other chronic disease or condition.
If you are not getting at least seven hours of quality sleep each night, focus on making that a habit before you try to change anything else. Getting quality sleep each night is the ultimate daily habit.
2. Start your day strong.
The pace and flow of your morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. When you start your day strong, the rest of the day becomes easier. The opposite is also true.
What if you are not a “morning person?” First, be careful about the identity that you assign to yourself. Secondly, if you do not feel great when you wake up – physically, mentally, or psychologically – that’s even more of a reason to be intentional about the way that you start your day.
You don’t need to get up at 5:00 a.m. That’s not the point. How you start your day is more important than when you start your day.
3. Do exercise that makes you sweat.
Everyone knows that exercise makes you stronger physically. However, many people are unaware of the mental and psychological benefits of exercise, especially when your exercise is complex and makes you sweat. As Dr. John J. Ratey writes in his exceptional book titled Spark, “Exercise is the single most powerful tool you have to optimize your brain function.”
Note: You can click here to learn how to make exercise a habit.
4. Eat a nutrient-dense meal(s).
As with exercise, everyone knows the connection between nutrition and physical health. However, many people are also unaware of the mental and psychological consequences of not eating well.
In an interview for Work Stronger, Dr. Daniel Johnston, Co-Founder at BrainSpan (a brain health analytics company), told me “Your brain actually shrinks as you gain extra body weight. There are incredible benefits for your brain’s health, resilience, and performance when you eat right,” he says.
5. Drink water, not calories or chemicals.
There are two key benefits of making water your primary beverage. First of all, you need a lot of water to feel and perform your best. Dehydration can lead to cramping, nausea, headaches, fatigue, irritability, inflammation, weaker athletic performance, and reduced mental capacity.
Secondly, if you’re not drinking water, what are you drinking? The answer is probably alcohol, soda, sweetened iced teas, fancy coffee drinks, and artificial sports/energy drinks that contain as much sugar and chemicals as soda.
You are what you eat and drink.
6. Focus on one task at a time.
Despite what many people believe, multitasking and switching tasks all day long decreases (not increases) your productivity. It also increases your stress and anxiety and leads to more errors. Focusing on one task at a time is the ultimate daily habit at work.
7. Plan your day in advance.
Use the end of each workday (or some other pre-determined time) as a cue to create your plan for the following day. This daily habit helps you bring closure to your workday. It also helps you hit the ground running the next morning. When you identify your top priorities in advance, you are much more likely to actually complete them the next day.
A daily journaling practice could provide a greater ROI for your well-being than anything else that you could do in such a short amount of time (less than five minutes). Many people keep a gratitude journal and write down a few things each day that they are thankful for. While that’s a good start, I recommend that you also write down a few things each day that you are proud of doing.
Don’t just think and write about what the world is giving you. Think and write about what you are giving the world. I call this a “Power Journal,” and you can learn more about it here.
9. Learn from experts.
The fastest way to accomplish any goal and advance in your career is to learn from people who are already experts. Read their books and take their online courses. In a very short period of time, you can learn what it took those experts many years to discover.
If you invest 20-30 minutes a day into some kind of learning with experts, you will complete over 100 hours of high-value learning each year. You will also save yourself months or years of effort trying to figure out everything on your own.
10. Disconnect from technology.
In today’s world, many people spend all or most of each day connected to some kind of technology. That includes televisions, cell phones, laptops, and internet and social media. It’s not a coincidence that stress, anxiety, and depression are also higher than ever before.
Take a few times each day to slow down and disconnect from technology. There are many ways to do this, including meditation, yoga, journaling, reading physical books, or going for a leisurely walk outside.
Which Daily Habits Should You Focus on First?
Most people want to improve their consistency with each of the habits listed above. Here is some quick advice on how and where to start.
First of all, if you are not getting at least seven hours of quality sleep each night, focus on that daily habit first. Otherwise, you are putting yourself at a huge disadvantage – physically, mentally, and psychologically.
If seven hours of sleep sounds impossible, start smaller and work toward that number. For example, if you typically only get six hours of sleep each night, you could aim for an extra 15 or 30 minutes each night at first. Then, you could eventually aim for seven hours.
Once you have adopted the habit of getting enough sleep each night, then work on starting each day strong. Create a morning routine with some combination of the other habits above (like morning exercise, a nutrient-dense meal, and/or meditation). That will help you attack the rest of each day.
Once you reach a point where you are ending and starting each day strong, then work on building the other daily habits above into your life. Take it one habit at a time. Choose whatever order you prefer.
Summary and Final Thoughts
All habits are not created equal. Certain habits add much more value than others. Here are the 10 best daily habits that will help you become your strongest self- physically, mentally, and psychologically:
- Sleep for at least 7 hours each night.
- Start your day strong.
- Do exercise that makes you sweat.
- Eat a nutrient-dense meal(s).
- Drink water, not calories or chemicals.
- Focus on one task at a time.
- Plan your day in advance.
- Learn from experts.
- Disconnect from technology.
Build these habits into your life (one habit at a time), and you will be amazed at the results.
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About the author: Pete Leibman is the Creator of StrongerHabits.com. He is a best-selling author, keynote speaker, and executive recruiter, and his work has been featured on Fox News, CBS Radio, and CNNMoney.com. His latest book is titled Work Stronger: Habits for More Energy, Less Stress, and Higher Performance at Work.